Loyola fires Jim Whitesell
CHICAGO -- Loyola fired men's basketball coach Jim Whitesell on Monday.
With one year left on his contract, athletic director Dr. M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement released Monday that Whitesell would have had difficulties recruiting and that an extension "would send a false signal of the level of competitive success" meriting one.
Whitesell went 109-107 overall and 50-70 in the Horizon League in his seven seasons with the Ramblers.
"I was surprised," Whitesell said. "You go through a lot of emotions on a day like this. Good fortune rolls your way sometimes, and sometimes it doesn't. Maybe I could have done better, but I think every coach goes through that every game."
The Ramblers opened this year 8-2 and were within a few baskets of defeating Butler and Kansas State, but couldn't sustain their efforts throughout the season. They finished 16-15 overall and 7-11 in conference.
"I was proud of the job we did," Whitesell said. "I would have loved to win more games, but I feel good about how we handled things on a day-to-day basis. We graduated every kid. It's a tough day, but I really loved working there.
"The other thing is when you're 16-15 like we were, and you see the paper today and the teams in the CBI and CIT, and there are teams in there that are 16-15. Eighty percent of Division I basketball teams live around .500. We have two or three mores win, and we have a heck of a year."
This season was the first Loyola finished above .500 since 2006-2007. It also was the Ramblers' fourth consecutive conference losing season. Whitesell's greatest success came in 2006-2007 when his team was the first to win 20 games since 1985.
Whitesell was the third coach in the state fired in the past month. Bradley's Jim Les and Northern Illinois' Ricardo Patton were also released.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.